English Title: Bullhead
Original Title: Rundskop
Country: Dutch, French
Genre: Crime, Drama
Director/Writer: Michael R. Roskam
Music: Raf Keunen
Cinematography: Nicolas Karakatsanis
My final Febiofest screening of this Oscar-nominated Belgian film, a powerfully ravishing drama-crime blends a hidden atrocity in the past. The film owns an entangled and compelling script, sprinkling a few dastardly violence on screen, eliciting a fatalism presentiment and heroism boosting.
From the beginning voiceover about the re-surface of some tucked-away secrets, the audience all anticipates the unraveling of the mystery, which turns out to be a frightful child trauma which prompts our protagonist’s hormone-injected burly figure. The cobweb of various characters may cause some trouble understanding what is happening, but the intensity of the narrative and a curiosity of the main character keep hold of the film in a sterling form.
Leading actor Matthias Schoenaerts both physically and theatrically embodies himself with a career-defining rendition, intimidating first, then gradually the inner warmth and vulnerability will overcome the visual barriers and a very bald performance of the year. Among the supporting roles, Jeroen Perceval is sneakily versatile as the gay police informer, a witness of the childhood tragedy then.
An 8/10 is commendable, one bug is the crime-blasting tenor has toned down to a nostalgic love-story in the latter part of the film which does kill some sociological heftiness. All the foregrounded felonies have just been retreated to a loose end, but the elevator finale is just so explosive and breathtaking, an instant pathos demonstrates a real cinematic victory.
As one of the five nominees of BEST FOREIGN FILMS, a shocker is BULLHEAD’s representative of Belgium instead of THE KID WITH A BIKE (2011) by Dardenne brothers, judging by his first feature’s potential, director Michael R. Roskam is on the verge of being enrolled in the mainstream Hollywood ground, let’s pray his European traits will not be tainted by the hacks’ paradise.